15 Incredible Facts About the Rare Black Squirrel


Black squirrels are fascinating creatures that capture the attention and curiosity of those lucky enough to spot one. These rare rodents aren’t just captivating to look at; they have many traits. Here are 15 incredible facts you should know about the black squirrel.

Melanism at Work


One of the most remarkable aspects of the rare black squirrel is its striking dark coloration, which is the result of a genetic condition known as melanism. This condition causes an overproduction of melanin, the pigment responsible for darker skin, fur, and eyes that make the squirrel’s distinctive jet-black fur.

Geographic Hotspots


Black squirrels are rare compared to their gray and red counterparts. But what’s even more intriguing about them is that their populations are concentrated in specific geographic areas rather than evenly distributed. They are more commonly found in the Midwest and northeastern United States, in towns, like Kent, Ohio, Marysville, and Kansas, as well as parts of Canada.

Genetic Superiority


In colder climates, black squirrels are believed to have a genetic advantage. Because their darker fur absorbs more heat from the sun, they stay warmer during the bitterly cold winter months.

Tougher Competitors


Some studies indicate that black squirrels are more aggressive than their gray counterparts, which might help them outcompete gray squirrels for resources in certain environments.

Photogenic Appeal


The jet-black fur of these squirrels contrasts beautifully with their surroundings, whether it’s the green foliage of trees, the white snow of winter, or the vibrant colors of an urban environment. Black squirrels also have bright eyes and bushy tails, adding visual interest to photographs.



In the wild, black squirrels can live up to 6 years, but in captivity, they can live over ten years due to fewer threats and a consistent food supply.

Sharp Senses

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Black squirrels have excellent vision, which aids in navigating the forest. Their highly sensitive ears can detect a wide range of sounds, including the faint rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds, or the approach of predators. This acute hearing allows them to remain vigilant and respond quickly to auditory cues on danger or the presence of food.

Reproductive Success

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In some situations, black squirrels may have better rates of successful reproduction than other color variants. Higher survival rates for black squirrel offspring are attributed to various factors, including greater aggression, and improved predator avoidance. Eventually, this leads to a greater percentage of black squirrels within the population.

Tourist Attraction


Travelers go to places with many black squirrel populations hoping to see these uncommon creatures. Places like Marysville, Kansas, Washington, D.C., and Kent, Ohio can indeed be tourist attractions. Kent even hosts an annual Black Squirrel Festival.

Local Phenomenon


Black squirrels do not fail to capture the attention of local communities. Residents take pride in their squirrel populations, sometimes even adopting them as unofficial mascots or symbols of their town or city. For example, the black squirrel is the unofficial mascot of Haverford College in Pennsylvania.

Behavioral Adaptation

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Dwelling in trees is a behavior ingrained in black squirrels’ natural instincts. For shelter, they build nests, known as dreys, high up in trees using twigs, leaves, and other natural materials. These nests provide shelter from the elements and serve as safe havens for resting and raising their young.

British Immigrants


British immigrants brought black squirrels from North America to the United Kingdom. They likely entered the country through deliberate releases or accidental escapes from private collections or zoos.

Historical Mystique


Due to their diligent nature, black squirrels are seen as symbols of preparation and hard work in Native American folklore.



Close relatives, black squirrels can interbreed with gray and red squirrels, producing offspring of various colors. Couplings result in many fur colors, from pure black to gray-black patterns.

Storing for Winter


Food is stored to prepare for winter, with nuts and seeds hidden in various locations by these animals. They rely on memory and scent for retrieval. Often buried in shallow holes known as caches, some of the buried nuts and seeds are never retrieved. Those not retrieved germinate and grow into new plants and trees.


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